tv Charlie Rose PBS November 23, 2009 12:35pm-1:35pm EST
>> rose: welcome to the broadcast. we begin this evening with its "new york times" petroleumitieser prize winning columnist and best selling author tom friedman. >> what worries me about america today, charlie, is that we are produces suboptimal solutions to all our big problems. whether it is called health care. whether it's called financial regulation, whether it's call debt, whether it's called energy and climate. where asa because it has an authoritarian system run by engineers, not lawyers, can actually order through awe tore -- author toreian means in many case morse optimal solutions. >> rose: we turn to the middle east with two respected experts and authors eugene rogan and stephen cohen. >> people in the arab world who have continued to really hope to see a new dawn where they might take command of their own future and what not are finding themselves more powerless than ever.
and there's a deep sense of malaise particularly after the war in iraq. that really has been radicalizing politics. making people feel like they could actually make a difference with the ballot. >> the united states needs to say to the world we have to solve the problem of our continuing confrontation with the muslim world it has undermined the success of president after president. and we cannot continue that way. we have to find a way to overcome that barrier and therefore israel has to see itself in the context of the whole western alliance. >> rose: friedman, rogan, cohen next. >> funding for charlie rose has been provided by the following. >> each day a billion people won't find safe drinking water. around the world we're helping communitites to access clean water. working to improve lives through conservation and
education. one drop at a time. >> additional funding for charlie rose was also provided by these funders. . >> and by bloomberg, a provider of multimedia news and information services worldwide captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> this was a big week in diplomacy for president oa. last night he returned from a week long visit to asia it took him to japan, singapore, china, south korea, during his first top in tokyo the president called himself america's first pacific president. mutual interests were not always easy to find. at the apec summit in singapore leaders said that a legally binding agreement at the copenhagen climate
summit next month was unlikely. in beijing president's hu and oa pledged greater cooperation but were unable to resolve differences over trade, currency, policy and human right. and though president oa pledged to move forward on a trade agreement with south korea, congress remains wary. with me now "new york times" columnist tom friedman. he has written about all of this. his recent book hot, flat and crowded has been released in paperback in a revised and expanded versionment i'm pleased to have tom friedman back at this table. >> great to be with you, charlie. >> rose: so tell me, assess this trip to me and what might have been the expectation and what was the result and what does it portend for the future. >> well, let's put it in the widest aperture i can for you, charlie. any time you get an american leader and chinese leader together it invites a comparison. who is on the way up and who is on the way down. >> the g 2. >> rose: exactly. >> the old saying britain owned the 19th century, america the -- and china will own the 1st century. kind of game out there.
that is kind of the mood. and i think that was the prism through which a lot of the writing on this trip was really reflecting. america on the way down, china on the way up. and to which i say maybe, maybe. we're to the going to win the 21st sent reby default. we're to the going to lose it by default either. as i look at the u.s.-china relationship today, charlie, what i look at are two things, two things that really can distinguish a country any more. many things can distinguish a country, but i would point to two that i would say are not commodities. okay, the first is imagination. okay. the ability to nurture creative people who can spin out ideas. because in this world today, in this intertwine worlds, what i call this flat world, everything today say commodity. you can get yourself manufactured somewhere, branded somewhere, the logo somewhere, you can get it designed somewhere. what you can't get in the -- is the idea. i with argue that when it comes to that noncommodity thing, i'll bet on america overa any day. our society, our open society, our free system, our immigration based
system. when it comes to sparking ideas, i think we still got, as you know, my motto is never creed a century to a country that sensored google. >> rose: that was your grandma. >> grandma used to say never cede a century to a country that sensored google. >> rose: clearly they have gotten better at that. there is more emphasis on creativity, innovation, research, how do we create ideas for the future on your own area of interest in terms of climate change, and climate, you know, they are clearly out there doing stuff and you are almost prepared to say if they continue along that line, they are going to lead in the development of technology that will meet the climate change demands and whoever leads that will be in a predominant position. >> no question. china is getting better at creative stuff. but i would rather have our problem than their problem. what is our problem, you know, what is their problem. they are short on
creativity. you know, so they have to have an hour of creativity class. that's not so easy. you know, the rest of the day you have an authoritarian culture. america's problem is johnny and susy can't read but billy has a ponytail and a ring in his nose that just invented a hundred new ipod apps. i would rather have our problem than their problem. so let's look at this on one hand i'm optimistic that we're to the going to lose the 21st century because of that. here is what makes me pessimistic, charlie. here is the other noncommodity thing, you know, that we have in today's world. and that is governance. the ability of a society to govern itself, to produce optimal solutions to its biggest problems, so you can harness the creative power of your people. what worries me about america today, charlie, is that we are producing suboptimal solutions to all our big problems. now whether it is called health care. whether it called financial regulation, whether it's called debt. whether it's called energy and climate. whereas china, because it has an authoritarian system
run by a bunch of engineers, not lawyers, can actually order through authoritarian means from the top down in many cases more optimal solutions. so when i look to the future today i say yeah, you know, you and i can -- we've still got that creative thing. we are still the world's greatest dream machine. when it comes to governance, what really worries me today, charlie, is that our system isn't working. we are paralyzed today. look at california. california is just the off-broadway version of what is coming to washington. california is becoming, as they say, a failed state, it may be america's first failed state. so what do california people do. they went out and they hoped they could elect a movie star, very charismatic character, arnold schwarzenegger who could kind of trump the paralysis of the system. couldn't. he really failed. i think in some ways, people looked and hoped for obama would do the same thing. incredibly charismatic figure, that he could come to washington and overcome all of the forces of paralysis. and i think that disappointment you are seeing now among obama
voters, you can see it creeping into a lot of the commentary is a concern, a deep worry that oh my god, maybe, and i say this with great sadness, he can't trump the system. >> rose: as good as he is, he can't. >> the forces of paralysis are just weighing him down. what are those forces, it is one of the things that really interest me today. first of all money and politics which is now so big that politicians either have to spend their time raising it or spend their time running from people who have got it and are trying to force things on to them no matter how small their interests are. second you've got the gerrymandering of political districts now that are so scientific that as they say politicians can to you choose their voters, not the other way around. you've got a cable television universal that really fractures the political spectrum and empowers some of the loudest most extreme voices. you've got an internet at its best really opens the world for new voices, challenges elites and establishments but at its worst really can spread extremist ideas i think in a very dangerous way. and lastly, or you also have a permanent presidential
campaign. make governing very hard. and lastly you've got a business community, charlie, that has really changed in the last few years. the american business community today has gone so global it doesn't actually exist in america, it just hovers over america. so when our biggest multinationals today have a problem in washington, they come to washington for one reason. lobby subsection 4 paragraph did about the repatriation of energy in my offshore unit in suriname. they don't come to washington to talk about big things, free trade, open markets, education, american business leadership today, charlie, is awol. they are missing in action on the big national issues. you put all that together, and it's become a prescription for real gridlock where we have a government that can only produce somebody optimal solutions. now there is one more thing grandma used to say. a great power that over time only produces suboptimal solutions to its biggest problems will not remain a great power. so the big question is how
does this country create and fix its system? >> it is something, it's all i'm thinking about now, really, charlie. it is a hard question. the clich heed answers, we need better leadership. i'm not sure that the answer. i think we feed better citizens. that is, you know, there is always people saying you know, we are the people we have been waiting for. well, we are the people we been waiting for, then what are we doing. look at the students protesting in california today. they are protesting that there was a 32% tuition increase at california colleges. now my heart goes out to those students. i mean you suddenly get slapped with a, you know, 32% tuition increase but at the same time you have a california that has frozen its tax level what is the governor used -- supposed to do. if the people are voting over here to freeze taxes, what is the governor supposed to do. he can't print money. so you know, ultimately it's not just better leaders, we need better citizens. >> rose: so the answer to our problems is people who would take a wiser look at
the solution that are proposed and therefore give their legislative -- legislators an opportunity to do what is in the best interest of the country rather than preventing them from doing it. >> exactly. make our leaders understand. you can ask me to do something hard. you and i have talked about this a lot. gasoline tax, okay. let's say we had a dollar a gallon gasoline tax, okay. we said we're going to give 40 cents of every dollar to pay down the deficit. 45 40 cents of ef redollar to pay for health care. okay. 10 cents of each dollar to subsidize health care for people who can't afford it. 10 cents of each dollar to subsidize driving for those who have to drive long distances. that dollar, what would we get from that dollar. well we would deal with health care, we would deal with the deficit. we would deal with the crisis of the dollar because we wouldn't be spending $25 billion a month a product. we would deal with the fact that our energy purchases are empowering the worst regimes in the world. so win, win, win, win, win. what kind of society are we? when the most obvious
solution to our problem, to multiple problems right now is off the table. it's off the table. there is right down there, gasoline tax. >> rose: because of -- you can't go to $4 a gallon. >> people say it is off the table. in denmark it's $9. in london it is $8. but here it is off the table. >> rose: but is it off the table because we do not have the politicians who are prepared to go to the country and say exactly that? yes, i'm going to raise gasoline taxes to $4 but here is what is going to happen for the money. i promise you, i guarantee you i will put it in writing. >> i think that it's dhik en -- we don't have the politicians and we haven't said to those politician, you know, basically, yes, this is what we want to do. where is the -- where is the million person march on the mall for that? for the right policies. it's not there. >> rose: there is, though, a certain populism at loose but it's not that. >> it's not that rdz it a negative. >> it is a mindless populous. it's anger it is not
channeled anywhere. it is not channeled anywhere that going to lead to what we desperately need now which is nation building at home. >> rose: so does this make barack obama incapable of getting health care, incapable of doing what he ought to do in regulatory reform, incapable of forcing the congress, do what is right about trade, and getting the agreement with south korea that he wants. >> what i worry is that we will get solutions but they will be suboptimal. a thousand page bill that really isn't the solution to the problem, it will be the sum of all interest groups. that's all it will be. >> rose: do you hear this kind of conversation coming from the oa administration, those people who went to washington who thought they could change everything and had a bit of power and then found out not only popularity but a congress in numbers way ahead of whatever george bush ever had? >> i can't say -- i would be misleading if i said someone has told this to me. what i feel is in the air. i feel it in the air.
and i feel it in the air getting louder and louder in the last couple of weeks. >> rose: when i'm talking to these people on the inside, all this, they say, you don't understand the politics. you don't understand the policy. you are not factoring in the politics. you expect this, you don't get the politics. the. >> that is what i mean, you don't get all those things that are paralyzing us. i'm not saying it is easy. and it may be the systemic problems, these forces paralyzing the system are insurmountable. but i would argue we haven't really tried. you know. i mean i would love to see obama go right at them a lot more directly. you know, i think one of the problems. >> rose: part of his supporters want that too. >> to me one of the things that he has not done is tie all this policies together into a single narrative. okay. so you've gotthelf care out there, climate out there, energy out there. >> rose: what is the narrative. >> you have said this before. >> rose: what is the narrative that he ought to be tying it into. >> to me it nation building at home. we are doing health care, charlie. we are doing an energy bill. how dz.
>> rose: how does your health-care solution tie in with your energy solution? or the narrative he might have. >> it is not me, i don't know much about health care. to me i don't see how we can be competitive in the 21st century as a country without some kind of national health-care system that takes it the burden of health care off our small businesses and biggest companies. not to mention the very important moral dimension of being a country that takes care of its people as other countries do. i don't see how we can be the only major industrial power and compete globally when we put the health care burden on our companies. >> rose: and. >> energy policy the same thing. in a hot, flat and crowded world what is the next great global industry t has to be et, energy technology. so i want to invest in that because if i'm doing nation building at home it will prepare my country for the next great global industry. financial regulation. how do you compete in a globalized world. the country that has the best financial software will attract the most capital and have really good allocation of capital and flows between capital markets and new
companies. education, how do i get my people to be more competitive in this flat world that we are going into. i will educate my people to be collaborators on this whole new platform. each one of them to me is a prescription but is unified for nation building in america. that is what we need right now. >> rose: let me return to afghanistan. what do you think the president ought to do and what question should he be asking as he goes goes into maybe his 20th session. >> well. >> rose: and winding down to the end. >> on this one i'm really for keeping it as limited as possible. i'm not for expanding our footprint there. what worries me, charlie, is we are really going from really baby-sitting to adoption. adoption of a special needs child. now there is nothing worse in the world, charlie, two parents who adopt a special needs child and --, it will be terrible for that child,
for that parent, they will hate each other for the rest of their lives. we are going from in afghanistan baby-sitting a problem to talk being actually adopting what is going to be a special needless child. and at a time when we desperately need --. >> rose: but we are also saying that that child's health may very well determine our security. and it may have a huge impact on our health. now you can either accept that idea or dismiss that idea. do you think this president believed that if, in fact, he has a smaller footprint that afghanistan won't turn bad and therefore destabilize pakistan. >> and all of that may be true. and it may happen whether we go in and whether we don't. that's really one of my big issues. but let's think of this, what are we really talking about. what is our goal. stabilize afghanistan. that is the goal. >> rose: what is the input within the input is more troops. >> what connect it's your troops to your goal. >> your afghan partner. >> when we have such a flawed partner, a man who
was elected with complete and utter electoral fraud who presides over one of the most corrupt regimes in the world, how do we get from this input to that output when we have to go through this partner. that is my problem. my bigger problem, charlie, is i'm actually ready to live with more risk, okay. because i do not want the moon shot of my generation to be trying to fix the most dysfunctional muslim country in the world. that's, i don't want to do that any more, okay. and that is my issue. >> rose: let's suppose you say that and therefore you say i want a limited footprint. what are the consequences of that? what for us do people say there you go again. you get involved and you pull out. you know, you are not there in the end. and you cannot be relied on for anything. >> here is, there you go again. you know, let's remember something. how did we take over
afghanistan was with special forces, how many. >> rose: 300 i think. >> et cetera let's go crazy, it was 500. >> rose: special forces. >> how was it we took over a whole country with 500 special forces. >> rose: in fairness it was the alliance that provided the momentum. >> that's the point. when they want it, okay, when they take the lead, when they take ownership, okay, it works. and our input can be minimal. if they won't take the lead, if they won't take ownership, then five million american troops aren't going to make it work. so you say well people will say what about you. there you go again. well, what about you? it's your country. you know why is it we have to pay your brother to give the cis to pay the brother of the afghan president allegedly to get information. tell me something, does somebody have to pay nehru to build isial. i do have to pay to you give me information to saft lives of american men and women in afghanistan fighting to
build your kpri? up your nose with a rubber hose. >> rose: and we're out of here? >> i'm not saying we're out of here. >> rose: are we out of here except using things that do not demand troops on the ground. if that is your argument, if that your argument. >> it is. >> rose: i know, i know. >> i'm -- i wrote a column about it is not some secret. >> rose: don't think i don't know. why leave the troops there, why not just simply say, it's almost what we think might be the biden argument. let's focus on ala, forget about troops that come. in forget the mcchrystal strategy totally for all the reasons. >> yeah. >> rose: and therefore -- >> it may come to that. what i would like -- frankly coy live with that because guess what might happen. >> rose: what. >> guess what might happen. they might actually take responsibility for their own future. guess what, if we are out of the way pakistan might say it's actually me or the taliban. come in through here but his taliban are okay.
maybe it is you and the taliban, pal, so either are you going to win or they are going to win. you know. sometimes people have to tart taking responsibility for their own future. >> rose: and so what are the lessons from iraq? >> to me, iraq is the most important lesson, okay s that why is iraq to the extent that it working now, why is it working, charlie. because the arab, the awakening in iraq began with iraqis. the anbar sunni awakening which had a parallel shi'a awakening too. the surge coincided with that, it was like that and god bless the surge t enabled and strengthened that awakening, okay. but it began with them. and that's friedman's first rule of the middle east. when does the mid elevator east and only when does the middle east put a smile on your face, when they start it. camp david wasn't start bid jimmy carter. it was started by an egyptian and israeli meeting in secret in morocco. oslo, called oslo for nothing it wasn't called oslo because it was started
at the white house. it was started by israelis and palestinians in secret in oslo. when it starts with them, it works because they have ownership of it. and when it starts with us, when we want it more than they do, oh, they smell that, charlie. you want it more than i do, baby, you're going to pay for that. you want it more than me. and then they got us over a barrel and use us to fight their own fights inside and that's life, you know, sooner or later you got to take responsibility for your future and i'll live with the insecurity. i don't like that i'm not saying it is going to be wonderful. we'll go home, hit back and relax but i'll deal with the insecurity. >> rose: that is what you are saying to the israelis and palestinians. >> absolutely, get a life, here we ares in 9 1st century. we are having the arguments of the 19 0s. if i have to explain to israel why settlements aren't in your interest. if i have to beg palestinians after 100 years of fighting to come to negotiations, if i have to plead with the arabs just wink, just wink, just a wink, you know, if i got to --
shame on me. shame on me. you know, no, you just go home, say guys when are you serious, give us a call, 456-1414, area code 202, ask for barak, i'm sure he will be available for you. >> let me quickly talk abouta. in terms of where do you think the chinese are in terms of the issues that is --. >> rose: charlie, charlie, charlie. >> rose: no, no, no. i think this is about that, tom. this is about china, hot, flat and dry, i think, maybe i'm wrong. >> go ahead. >> rose: maybe something, i got this idea that somehowa and india had occupied a flat world. >> right. >> rose: and it's also they are doing something about a hot world, let's assume. >> absolutely. >> rose: and also they are part of a crowded world. >> that's right. >> rose: now tell charlie you're sorry. >> tell charlie you're sorry. go ahead. >> rose: all right, okay, so in terms of the commitment
of different people around the world to do something in copenhagen it doesn't look likely on the part of the chinese, on the part of the indians, on the part of the united states. it looks like we're looking at something that we hoped would be different because of a new administration isn't going to be different. >> well, you know, my whole approach from the very beginning is i'm not against copenhagen or bali or any of those things or keogh. whoever can get 192 countries in the world to agree on verifiable limits and reductions of their co2 emissions may god bless them. we'll within them. that is actually not my emphasis. my emphasis is creating the ecosystem of innovation in this country to drive a green economy. because i believe when we go green, everyone will go green. if we don't go green, they'll do it but not at the speed, scope and scale. >> is the new body going to go green before we go green. >> they are doing it in small ways. china is doing its thing, limited. all very exciting. denmark is doing its thing,
europeans but it is to the going to happen to scale. it won't happen to scale unless we leave it. >> will it happen to scale only if oil is over 100 a barrel. >> then, you know, it starts, the market is going to drive certain things but we've been there before, you know. when you just use the price mechanism to say let the market drive the price of oil were up, you actually get the worst of all worlds. you get high prices and low investment. why ishat? bus you get high prices because the market dries up. you get low investments because every investor says price went up. it could come down, go back up again, could go back down again. so unless you have a fixed price for gasoline or oil you say it is never going below 100 dollars a barrel. you don't get what you need rses hot, flat and crowded, why we need a green revolution, how it can renew america. updated and expanded. what is updated and what is expanded. >> i rewrote the front of book. we talked about this exactly a year ago when the book came out first in hard back and at the time, it was i think a week before lehman brothers, maybe two weeks before. and so i have been sort of
dealing with the subprime crisis obviously in parallel with this issue. so i rewrote the front of the book, entirely the first three chapters. i mean i used some stuff from the old book. it is now called why citibank, iceland's banks and the banks of antarctica all melted at the same time or why bear stearns and the polar bear will face extinction at the same time. what i am arguing is that the financial crisis and the -- what we call the great depression or great recession, excuse me, is actually both a financial event and an environmental event. that what happened in this last year was both the market and mother nature telling us at the same time you cannot go on growing like this. and the reason citibank, iceland's banks and the biggest ice bank in antarctica all memented last year at the same time was because we were practicing the same accounting in both the market and mother nature. how so? in the market we are allowing people to massively underprice risk. to privatize the gains.
and to socialize the losses. we allowed people to massively underprice the risk of credit default swaps, deprive atized the gains, aig and everything else. when it blew up we socialize the losses on every american taxpayer. we have been doing the same thing in mother nature. we allow people to massively underprice the risk of emitting carbon molecules, privatized game, cheap coal-based electricity and socializing the losses by charging them on our kid's visa cards, they will be paid off in the future in the form of future climate change. so on both the market and mother nature we've been prague exact same accounting a and that is why bear stearns and the polar bear both face extinction at the same time that is why citibank, iceland's banks and the ice banks of antarctica are melting at the same time. they both also were, they have the same ethical underpinnings or i say lack of ethical underpinning thes. they are both based on banking principals wall i bg or nby, i will be gone, or you will be gone. if the financial world we
told people you will be gone, no problem. flip the house, we told people rate it aaa even though we knew, don't worry, you'll be gone. we tolted people sell the thing to somebody else, that package of toxic, you know assets. i'll be gone. and all these cases, there was a fundamental moral breakdown. we've been doing the same thing in nature. we said we can do this but i will be gone. ybh, you will be here. that is the real story. and that is why out of this crisis, we not only need sustainable environmental policy, we need sustainable economic policy. my friend -- likes to distinguish in the values world what he calls situational value and sustainable values. we have been behaving with situational values. that is the situation a you lad me to shoot mortgages so i did. sustainable values would say you should never issue mortgages to -- you know, at that level. situational values said i could bundle those mortgages and sell them all over the world. sustainable values would never allow you to do that. same with nature. so we need to bring
sustainability as a concept, not just the financial realm but also, not just financial realm but also to the financial realm. and that is why the argument at the front of the book is we have gone from the greatest generation, our parents generation who built this incredible world of freedom and a bundance to the grasshopper generation, that was our generation, a term my friend curt anderson coined. we ate through it like hungry locusts. we ate through everything the greatest generation created. and now we and our kids need to be the regeneration. we need to regenerate our country, okay, and this planet. but based on sustainable values not situational values. and sustainability will be to our generation, charlie, what freedom was to our parent's generation. if we cannot produce a sustainable world our generation will be more unfree than had the russians won the world war. because the constraints that the market and mother nature will impose on us by not living a sustainable lifestyle or producing a sustainable economy will be more constricting than had the soviets won the cold war.
>> do you think that president obama, this administration is pointing the way to deal with both the economic dia and the environmental dilemma. >> i think es he really -- >> in terms of finding a sustainable progress. >> i think he's trying to. and it a question of -- >> but it failing because of the government loss that you talked about earlier. >> just think about the energy bill this really complicated cap and trade bill that has been produced in the house. and it has been passed by the house, now in the senate. so one of the problems we have today is that, you know, and i have written about this before h there is only one thing worse than one party autocracy and that that is one party democracy. where one party plays and the other sits there with hands folded. think of the energy bill t there are 60 say democratic votes. harry reid's problem is that if he wants to have a serious energy bill, votes 50 to 60 will cost him so much from democrats, you know, to get those last ten
democratic votes because why did it all come from coal state democrats. so if harry reid just had what, ten republicans that he could offset votes 50 to 60 w ten republicans for a price of carbon, you could get a really good bill. and this is where, you know, this paralysis comes from. because if you don't have those ten republicans, what harry reid will have to pay for both 50 to 59 will be enormous. and vote 60 which is probably called mary land rue of louisiana will cost him so much it will negate. >> or blanche lincoln from arkansas. >> it will negate votes 1 through 50. that is the problem with the paralyzed system of getting optimal solutions. you get something suboptimal. >> rose: always great to see you. >> you too, pal. >> rose: thomas l. friedman, hot, flat and crowded, why we need a green revolution and how it can renew america, some of the ideas he expressed here as he said released 2.0 updated and expanded. it's always a pleasure to have him here.
thank you again. back in a moment. stay with us. >> rose: the middle east continues to challenge the west as israelis an palestinians have hardened their standards. president obama's commitment to peace is questioned by some in the arab world. iraq struggles to consolidate its stability with upcoming elections while violence continues. iran a percent force in the neighborhood has interest and influence throughout as well as suspected nuclear intentions. civil society, education, literacy and other indicators continue to lag in their the arab world as extremist and militancy appeals to many. what has been america's role in the region, what is the impact of our history on our current interest there. joining me now two authors who have new books stephen p cohen has been involved with the middle east for more than 40 years as a teacher, analyst and advisor, his book ask called beyond america's grasp, a century
of failed diplomacy in the middle east. eugene rogan is a faculty fellow, electorate at st. anthony college at oxford university. his book is called the arabs, a history. mi pleased to have both of them on this program at this time. welcome. >> thank you. >> good to see you again and welcome. >> thank you. >> let's start with stephen, tell me where you think we are today. >> with the boss talking about not running for re-election, with new settlements in jerusalem, with -- >> i think that the boss made a very important promise to the arab world when he spoke in cairo. and he has not yet been able to find a policy to fulfill his promise. and in my view, that is a problem that goes back to the early days of american relationship with the arab world. because woodrow wilson came to this issue making a very important promise when he
talked about the right of self-determination. >> rose: go ahead. >> and he found that when he went to the paris peace conference, the main actors there, the french and the british did not agree with him. and that time the united states did not have the influence to overcome their resistence to that idea and their determination to continue their imperial path. >> rose: does he remind you of president obama or better said does president oa remind you of woodrow wilson because of the idealism that they both seemed to articulate? >> the thing that makes me think of wilson when i think of obama is that like obama wilson came into power with a very clear domestic agenda. and his domestic agenda and obama's domestic agenda shared one thing in common. they were attempts to rescue american capitalism from the robber barrons. and in that sense there is a very great similarity between the two of them. and they both are gradually
becoming overcome by the fact that the united states doesn't exist only within itself. it has an enormous role in the world. and it's ability to manage that role has been most weak in the muslim world. obama understood that and so he made that very important step from the beginning of saying that he was going to change the relationship. but following that decollaration with action has been very difficult because he put his emphasis first of all on israeli settlements. and so he decided to go head on with the most ideaological determining factor in israeli politics. he was not able to turn nathanial around. and for me, the big question
is why is it that under obama the united states cannot have that instant influence on israel unlike president eisenhower who went after the suez crisis, gave ben guerian an ultimate imto leave the saini. he understood he had to do it and did it quickly. >> rose: so you are saying president obama does not seem to have the influence with leaders that the previous president had. >> no, it's not oa's problem. the problem is that after the 56 war, ben guerian understood that he had to overcome that vulnerability to the united states. and so he gave orders to shimon peres to make sure that israel acquired nuclear weapons. and that, i think, is the big difference. that under bren guerian israel did not have a
nuclear capability. >> rose: so you are suggesting that the problems with the present sort of laps in any kind of dialogue or negotiations is primarily at the feet of the israelis? >> its at the feet of the relationship between o bam's emphasis on nuclear nonpro live railings. and the fact is that you cannot achieve nuclear nonproliferation with iran if you take the israeli -- israeli story out, off from the table. >> rose: tell me how you react to what stephen just said. >> i think that in choosing settlements obama had picked a good fight because all the poll ratings will tell you settlements are not popular with the american voter. they are actually not popular with israeli voters. it was one place codraw a line and know he wouldn't find too much of a fight at home. what he hadn't counted on, coming into office, was to find himself with benjamin netanyahu as prime minister. i think he might have hoped
to see a katima government led by libny. so in drawing this line around settlements he was able to instead of make a point he could deliver to the arab world, he gave netanyahu a lifelong line to his own electorate because by standing up to the american president against exercising undue influence on israel, a not entirely popular israeli prime minister has been able to win over very broad israeli support. >> rose: it reinforced his coalition. >> hugely reinforced his coalition which is very much tied up to the settler movement but more important he has the israeli voting public behind him while obama is stands in the israeli polls is down to about 4%. the least popular american president in israel's history. >> rose: and so therefore the israelis can easily say no to any pressure from this president. he can threaten cutting off, i wouldn't use the word threat but they can raise the question of a diminution
of aid and the israelis will not respond. >> i don't think that president obama actually has a diminution of aid as an available weapon to apply. i think if he does anything that would be seen to be hoss toil -- hostile to the interest of israeli will he will face opposition at home. >> it hampers his own political will. >> it would get in the way. >> so aid to israel isn't like settlements. that is something i think congressmen, senators, the american pub lirbling around committed to. >> what account president do? >> my own view if i were talking to the president now is it's time he gets on a plane and goes to israel. that his failing as he reached a deadend with the prime minister, he feeds to jump over netanyahu's head and speak directly to the israeli electorate and excite them about a vision. >> what options does the president have. >> as i said earlier i think that the key thing is for the president to deal with this issue, not as a bilateral issue between israeli and the yuted states, because that doesn't work. >> you are saying don't go to israel there is no reason
to make it a bilateral. >> i think he first has to put this issue in the context of the whole crisis of international relations that the west is experiencing. in other words, the united states needs to say to the world, we have to solve the problem of our continuing confrontation with the muslim world. it has undermined the success of president after president. and we cannot continue that way. we have to find a way to overcome that barrier and therefore israel has to see itself in the context of the whole western appliance -- alliance. israeli is an important part of that western alliance. that was the purpose that truman had in recognizing israel in the first place. he thought that israel would be an important bulwark against the possibility of the spread of soviet communism into the middle
east. and now the relationship between israel and the united states has sort of lost its bearings from a strategic point of view. and i think that there is a strategic point here which is that the united states as we see from what happened in iraq, what happened in afghanistan, what is still laping in afghanistan, the united states is deeply caught up with its relationship with the muslim world. and that is affecting the influence of the united states and the entire -- >> getting caught up betweens what? >> it an influence in the world. it is undermined on a regular basis by its failure to solve the problems of the middle east. >> that is easier said than done. >> i know it's not easier t is very hard to do. but i believe that there is a key to that answer in what happened with ben guerian. in other words, what has changed is that israel has
this ambiguous policy about its nuclear cap ability. that ambiguous policy has been protected by the united states all these years. we know that when kennedy tried to find out what was going on, ben guerian and his colleagues simply deceived them. and kennedy decided --. >> rose: i don't understand what israel ambiguity about its nuclear policy is everybody know these have nuclear weapons, they just don't acknowledge it. >> it is not declared. >> rose: that is not ambiguity, it is simply denying. >> the point is therefore israel has been able to have the united states backing to not become a major issue in the discussions of nuclear-nonproliferation treaty. what has to happened is the united states in engaged in a negotiation with iran. and in that negotiation with iran do we imagine that at some point the iranians are going to accept that these demands to give up its whole nuclear program and never raise the question of who has nuclear weapons.
>> rose: they raise it every day. >> they will make it a big issue. >> they raise it ef redays wnd that will get eventually down to oa's plate. and i'm saying that obama has to talk to mr. netanyahu about what are the conditions under which i can continue to protect israel from the demand of nuclear nonproliferation which is a far more important issue to the future of israel and its defense than anything regarding settlements, you, mr. netanyahu. you call yourself mr. defense. are you going it to be the first israeli prime minister to lose this protection by the united states of israel's nuclear capability? that would be an he -- enormous mistake on the part of you and israel in terms of its own national interest. and your colleagues will not accept that. you know that. >> rose: where gow think the arab world is today in terms of, they all were scared to death of iran, to a person,
to a country. they very much would like to see, i would assume, the israeli issue settled. >> totally. >> rose: what are they doing? they are wait. >> they are waiting and seeing because they don't feel they are really in a position to change the way the pieces are laid out on the table at the moment. they see america as the dominant power. they have been desperate to try and find other partners to find and involve international diplomacy. diversify who they are talking to. but they recognize it is america they are dealing with. and so they are trying to find a way to get america to be more of an honest broker, to be less of a threat. and in those elements of oa's message that i think have really resonated with arab audiences because they sense something different is happening in washington now. there a new engagement with the international community. >> if i may say a word. >> yes, sir. >> the main thing that the arabs have to do or should be doing in order to make it possible for negotiations to take place it for them to
play a more positive role in resolving the struggle betweena and hamas in a direction of being able to take a negotiating position. >> well, i think the egyptians have tried. >> in fact, the egyptians now are taking a very important step. they are no longer insisting that there be a national unity government between fatah and hamas. because they understand that a national unity government betweena and hamas would not produce negotiation. because israel would not negotiate with a government that included members of a cabinet who were from hamas. and so instead what they are true iing to do ask to create simply a steering committee betweena and hamas which would allow two things to happen. one would be that abu mazin would be freed by that steering committee to begin a negotiation with israel on the basis of his platform which is the 1967 borders,
full peace. and at the same time he would use that steering committee together with hamas in order to bring some aid to hamas in gaza. not hamas but to gaza in order to start rebuilding the society. because they are in terrible shape. and they know it. and they know that hamas has delivered nothing to them. only the blow that they received last july, it was a terrible blow, they still cannot recover from it. >> rose: what dow both think about the long-range implications of the diminishing possibility of a two-state solution because of demographics? >> that is clearly the big threat that's driving israelis to reconsider the two-state solution. i think even those most committed to retaining the west bank as part of a greater israel are terrified that it will mean the undoing of the jewish nature of the state. they want the land but they do not want the people who live there and yet there is no civilized way to dispense with the people.
you can't have ethnic cleansing. >> rose: is there a way that -- the israeli question always is about security and the proximity of missiles to jerusalem and tel aviv. is it anyway that you can satisfy israeli security needs and at the same time satisfied -- satisfy the nature of a palestinian state that would serve as a model for the future? >> you know, it is a really spurious argument to be honest. because there fog about awe palestinian state that pose a greater danger than the current intermixing of palestinians and israelis. the big fear of the suicide bomber. that is the security issue that disturbs israelis and by not having a palestinian state that is not being prevented. in a sense if you give people a viable future, a stake in which their children will get an education, where there a real job to be had. where you don't live under a shadow of fear of violence and you are now in occupation. su have taken away 99% of people's reasons for acting
violently towards you. so i have always thought the argument that there is a security concern there is putting the emphasis in entirely the wrong place. >> with all due respect, i think that you are not thinking about the way that israel has perceived the effect of the withdrawal from gaza. what the israelis see with the withdrawal from gaa is the ability of hamas to turn towards a way from direct terrorist action into the use of weapons that can travel over the israelis to very vulnerable parts. >> understood. but the problem there was the unilateral withdrawal. in a sense israel handed hamas a victory in gaza by seeming to withdraw without talking to anyone. and if the israelis would simply negotiate with the people they had been occupying, before they withdraw from territory they spare themselves from headaches. >> you know who's argument that is, benjamin netanyahu. that the depar ture from gaza should have been
negotiated. you know that. >> absolutely. >> but the question is the israelis have to be sure that if they negotiate with a withdrawal with the palestinian authority it will still be there as the ruler of the west bank. because they know if they can get an agreement with abu mazin and fatah that is correct they do not want to go back to armed struggle. they are not interested in perpetuating the violence between israeli and the palestinians. >> hamas is the big question. and i think that there has to be a short-term answer because hamas is not yet ready to take the steps that the international community asks for. it is not mature enough as a political movement to make that big ideaological shift. >> why can't i disagree. the critical thing is as a political part they won the election. they were failsed one-sided preconditions before anyone would deal with them. the idea that for instance
hamas must renounce violence or recognize israel's right to exist, before israel has renounced violence towards hamas, or recognize the palestinian entities right to exist seems to me to be precisely the kind of one-sided politics we must leave behind if we are serpuous about resolve between palestinians and israelis. we have to create a level playing field. and we have to draw all the relative partys into that playing field and put on the table the issue that separate them because they are not that complicated at the end of the day. and we do know what the solution looks like. we have known that for a long time. >> i think that israel, israeli majority, is willing to withdraw from the west bank. but what it needs to do is to answer the question of it the missiles which may not emerge even if there is no negotiation with abu mazin. nobody else will be able to break the agreement. but israel has to have i fall-back position if it does break down.
and i think it's not so hard to create that either. and that is by having for enforces agree to by both parties who would make sure that missiles are not imported to the west bank and are not deployed in the west bank. i think in order to make that international force credible to the israeli military and to the israeli hard line right wingers it would have to include the united states in that nato force. and that would be a very difficult decision because the whole history of the israeli-american relationship has been israel proud of the fact that it's never had to have american boots on israeli soil. >> by think that that at this point has become a secondary issue to the question of how israel with can withdraw. >> rose: should it also be an intent and agreement that says we're going to dofering we can to help the prime
minister -- prime minister build up a palestinian entity the way he wants to do even if it is not a state, create, you know, a civil government, create some sense of structure and stability and we're going to be in there helping him do that and other arab countries are going to help him do that and western europe is going to help him do that because we believe that's an important element of the future. >> yes. fayad is moving in the right direction. >> rose: why doesn't the president get on board and say we're going to go get our allies and we're going to get as many arab countries as we can to join in that. so that --. >> rose: and it hopefully it will make sense if the agreement that is now being negotiated between thea central committee and fayad actually takes place. fayad wants to trun after abu mazin. but in order to run he has to have a unified fatah system because they can't do again what they did in 2006 wherea ran candidates against itself.
he has to know that fatah general central council really behind him and that there won't be other candidates who mess up the system. right now the general -- the central committee of fatah is insisting that fayad would appoint at least half the members of his cabinet would be fatah people. >> this for him is a kiss of death. he wants to have a government which is committee. a government of people who know what they are doing. >> rose: agreed. >> i don't think that fayad has the support base to win an election, actually. >> even if he has the -- >> he is not aa member. >> but even if fatah. >> and he doesn't really have a constituency behind him. i actually think his political ambitions are pretty well con -- constrained by that. i think by getting into the incrassee of palestinian politics as they might play out, we are losing site of a bigger picture which is why
america is concerned with trying to resolve this anyway. >> matt obama sees it in american strategic interest, that if they can simply take the palestinian-israeli conflict out of international diplomacy it will take away a force of radicalization. that is what it is all about. what happens in the political aa, palestinian will of course be very relevant to that but just trying to find a formula by which meaningful progress can be made to try and resolve this conflict without which, i'm afraid,s president will continue to face a terror threat even if he doesn't call it a war on terror. >> rose: you began this book with a lebanese journalist asis natured in 005 who says it is not good being arab. a deep disquiet pervades the arab world. >> that is a very great mind whose life was cut short because of a car bomb and the answer syrian movement that followed --
>> he put his finger on something pro found, which is in the way in which in the aftermath of the cold war and since the events of 9/11, that people in the arab world who have continued to really hope to see a new dawn where they might take command of their own future and what not are finding themselves more powerless than ever. there is a deep sense of malaise particularly after the war in iraq, in really has been radicalizing politics, making people feel like they can actually make a difference by the ballot any more. and so in this way, i think complicating. >> eugene rogan's book is called the arabs, a history. stephen cohen t is good to see you back in good health. beyond america's grasp for century, failed diplomacy in the middle east. thank you. >> thank you very much. >> thank you very much. great to be with you. >> thank you for joining us. see you next time.